Elephant Dies in Sri Lanka After Being Forced to Give Tourist Rides
Kanakota, an 18-year-old elephant, has died after being forced to give rides to tourists.
In 2018, PETA shared footage of elephants used for “safaris” in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, where they were kept tightly chained and under the constant threat of being struck with sharp bullhooks – heavy sticks with a sharp hook on one end.
Kanakota was one of many elephants exploited for tourist rides there. He was just 18 years old when, tragically, he collapsed from exhaustion after being forced to carry tourists around in the scorching heat without a chance to rest. After his last ride, he lay down, closed his eyes, and never woke up.
This is the heartbreaking reality for many elephants used for tourist rides in Sri Lanka and other countries. They’re typically kept tightly chained and isolated from other elephants, forced up and down the same busy roads day after day, and often worked to exhaustion in the sweltering heat – as soon as one group of tourists gets off, the next gets on.
Humans sit atop elephants in a howdah, a type of metal seat, which is strapped to their delicate backs. They have sharp, bony protrusions that extend upwards from the spine, and the combined weight of the howdah, tourists, and handler can cause them permanent, agonising spinal damage.
© Moving Animals
Elephants live in constant fear of their handlers, who control them using bullhooks. Sometimes, they lash out at them or other humans in frustration or self-defence. Both tourists and elephants have sustained injuries and even been killed in accidents caused by cruel elephant “attractions”.
This cruelty must stop – for the protection of elephants and humans alike.
What You Can Do
Kanakota’s death is a reminder that riding elephants or other animals causes them utter misery. When you book a trip abroad, ask your tour operator and hotel whether they promote such activities. If they do, explain why they should stop.
All animals are living, feeling beings who would never choose to cart humans around and who suffer when forced to do so. Please help elephants and others exploited and abused for tourist rides: